VisionLink Blog

By Ken Gibson

May 20, 2016

The 5 Biggest Mistakes CEOs Make Regarding Pay


CEOs are (typically) smart people.  I mean, let's face it.  You aren’t hired to run a company if you don’t possess strategic, managerial and leadership skills that can positively impact business growth and improve shareholder value and return.   As a result, it is perplexing to see the simple yet highly consequential mistakes so many chief executives make when it comes to compensation.  Here are the five most common “unforced” errors I see committed.

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By Ken Gibson

May 10, 2016

Compensation and the Growth Mindset Organization


Carol Dweck’s work regarding growth versus fixed mindset individuals has been extended to the business world in recent years.  Among other things, the studies are showing that: “Supervisors in growth-mindset companies expressed significantly more positive views about their employees than supervisors in fixed-mindset companies, rating them as more innovative, collaborative, and committed to learning and growing.  They were more likely to say that their employees had management potential.”  (“How Companies Can Profit from a ‘Growth Mindset’,” Harvard Business Review, November 2014, HBR Staff)

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By Ken Gibson

April 29, 2016

The CEO’s Role in Building a Pay Strategy


It is not unusual for a chief executive to rely on human resources to manage the compensation programs of the business. The CEO doesn’t want to get involved in the minutia of who is getting a wage increase this year or what salary band every group of employees falls in.  It’s not his role and a focus on such details would dilute his ability to lead the company effectively.  However, there are certain pay issues that only the company’s primary business leader can properly address. 

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By Ken Gibson

April 15, 2016

Why Private Business Loves Phantom Stock


In VisionLink’s work with leaders of privately-owned, mid-sized businesses, we are commonly engaged to help engineer a long-term incentive plan (LTIP).  The intent these companies have in setting up such a plan is to share value with those who help fuel organizational success over an extended period.  However, the hope of shareholders in these private companies is to accomplish that without diluting equity—without giving away actual stock. That combination (sharing value without diluting equity) most often leads these enterprises to choose some kind of phantom stock plan. Let’s explore why.

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By Ken Gibson

April 06, 2016

Does Pay Impact Employee Engagement?


An engaged employee is like the star student in an elementary or high school class.  The teacher recognizes the pupil’s work ethic and commitment and wants her other students to be “just like that one.”  So she sets up a system of rewards and punishments designed to promote the model behavior she’s trying to encourage and inhibit the kind she’s trying to suppress.  The hope is that this “ying and yang” approach will prompt a loyalty to learning—and instill the conduct the teacher prefers. The report card becomes the means of measuring whether it’s all working. More often than not, the metrics on that appraisal evidence it’s not.

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By Ken Gibson

March 25, 2016

What Business is Learning About Attracting Millennials


Corporate America is starting to figure out that it needs a strategy for attracting and retaining great millennial talent.  As a group, millennials represent the largest segment of the global workforce and therefore are a critical—and unavoidable—source for recruiting top performers. And little by little, businesses are learning what it takes to create a compelling value proposition for this emerging generation of employees.

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By Ken Gibson

March 18, 2016

6 LTIP Alternatives to Sharing Stock


Many private business owners and CEOs live with regret. They bemoan sharing equity with one or more employees and feel like they opened a Pandora’s Box by doing so. “I didn’t want to lose this person and they wanted equity—so I gave them stock,” is the common rationale offered when explaining why they expanded the ownership pool.  In other words, there was urgency to retain or attract a key person—and an assumption was made that they would lose that talent if they didn’t grant him or her shares. Expediency ruled the day.

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By Ken Gibson

March 09, 2016

Employee Incentives: Resolving the Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Conflict


A controversy continues. Some researchers, academicians and authors continue to serve up evidence that, as a general rule, performance incentives don’t work…and can even be destructive. A recent Harvard Business Review article is the latest example. The general claim in these examinations is that people are driven primarily (some claim entirely) by intrinsic motivators and that extrinsic “if you do this then you’ll get that” programs not only aren’t beneficial, they are most often harmful.  Meanwhile, enterprise leaders scratch their heads and wonder how to make sense of it all in their day-to-day “how should I pay this person?” world.

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By Ken Gibson

February 24, 2016

5 Ingredients of a High-Impact LTIP


Often, when one of my associates or I first talk with a CEO or business owner who has been referred to VisionLink, they want to know whether or not we can help them build a stock plan.  Their assumption is they need to share stock to retain and/or attract key producers.  After telling them the answer is yes, we can help them build such a plan, we subsequently suggest they may be starting with the wrong premise. “Why do you want to share stock?” we usually ask.  “Well, that’s what our competitors are doing so we need that kind of plan to be competitive.” Sigh.

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By Ken Gibson

February 01, 2016

Performance: There's a Framework for That


Performance is an elusive commodity in business. Few think they have enough of it. Less can adequately quantify it.  All enter each New Year wanting to improve it.  Talent strategies are formed, pay programs are adjusted and the business model is tweaked, all in an attempt to solve this mystery. However, for too many organizations the secret formula for improvement is never uncovered. This occurs because they haven’t yet formed the right framework for engineering sustained success within their businesses.  So let’s fix that, shall we?

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By Ken Gibson

January 21, 2016

Private Company Pay: The 3 Most Common Mistakes


If you lead a private company you probably often feel stuck when it comes to pay practices.  It likely starts with the frustration you feel about an inability to accelerate growth as quickly as you think is possible.  And you feel like every time you put your foot on the gas pedal those around you are putting theirs on the brakes. Right?

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By Ken Gibson

January 15, 2016

"Incentives" Even Daniel Pink Could Endorse


There has been a long-running debate about incentive plans and whether or not they “work.” It usually centers on one central question: Can incentives measurably and positively influence employee performance?  While many in business assume it’s conventional wisdom that such plans have a meaningful impact, some assert otherwise. These opposing voices have been challenging the assumptions many business leaders hold regarding human motivation in the workplace. 

 


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By Ken Gibson

January 07, 2016

Battle Armor for the Talent War


In the late 1990s, Steven Hankin of McKinsey coined the phrase “the war for talent.” The intent of that label was to warn businesses that a talent shortage was imminent and that if companies didn't engineer a focused effort for recruiting, retaining, and developing key employees they would be vulnerable. Well, as the late Yogi Berra famously observed: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

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By Ken Gibson

December 23, 2015

The 4 Top CEO Talent Concerns for 2016


VisionLink works with CEOs of private businesses all over the United States (and some outside those boundaries). Our work focuses on aligning pay with the organization's vision, business model and strategy. As a result, we develop a pretty good sense for what CEOs and other enterprise leaders are thinking about the future of their companies.  What we've heard,  observed and experienced is validated by recent empirical studies. For example, PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey revealed these chief executive talent, recruiting and retention concerns in its own research commentary:

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By Ken Gibson

December 16, 2015

4 Pay Strategy Commitments to Make for 2016


 New Year's Day has come and gone.  You've “closed the books” on 2015.  It’s time to turn the page, look forward and...(insert your favorite cliché here).  So…as you anticipate the coming year, what will be different in your business? What will improve? How will your growth goals be met?  Will you bring on new talent, increase results expectations for current producers or raise standards of performance in other ways?  If so, what role will your compensation strategy play in that effort? And how will you know whether your pay approach is having the impact you want? 

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CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES

"VisionLink has helped us successfully navigate a number of complex issues regarding our rewards programs. It has dealt with all facets of these varied issues with a high degree of competence, integrity, and straight forward advice. VisionLink's experienced team has consistently delivered first class results in a timely, professional manner and has become a valued Storm partner."

Thomas K. Grzywacz
Storm Industries, Inc.

"VisionLink has helped us successfully engineer a long-term incentive plan that has empowered our company to reward and retain key talent while increasing shareholder value. The knowledge, patience and deep experience of its team members helped us navigate a road that was unfamiliar to us. Ultimately, VisionLink designed a plan that met the high standards of both stockholders and key management employees. We have further engaged VisionLink to address our business succession and transition planning needs."

Reggie Dupre'
Dupre Logistics

"Over the past several years, National Technical Systems has engaged VisionLink to provide insight and direction on a number of executive compensation issues, as well as a performance evaluation of our 401(k) plan. Under its direction, NTS completely revamped executive level rewards to align with our business growth objectives and the strategic plan of the company. VisionLink's insight and direction have been invaluable. NTS has achieved its growth objectives and our executives feel appropriately rewarded for their performance."

Bill McGinnis
National Technical Systems

"VisionLink arrived on the scene just in time for us. We needed a new framework for our short-term and long-term incentive plans. VisionLink's modeling and forecasting process broadened our horizons and expanded our view of how to use a good incentive system to build, retain and strengthen our senior management team. We remain impressed by their expertise, professionalism and great service."

James Keng
Jimway, Inc.

"Our firm has had a long-term incentive plan for over eight years but we never quite felt like it was firing on all cylinders. We hired VisionLink to re-energize our plan, and they did it! We now have a cohesive awards strategy that's fair to shareholders and valued by our employees. VisionLink's team is technically skilled and very creative. We're happy to recommend VisionLink to firms looking to upgrade their management incentive programs."

John M
FTO Inc.

"Our company was like VisionLink's typical clients. We were great at sales and haphazard at how we compensated our people. VisionLink's process brings great clarity and confidence to our growth planning - and makes compensation a great growth capability."

Dan Sullivan
Strategic Coach ©

"The team at VisionLink helped our company structure a long-term incentive plan that parallels the company's strategy for continued growth as a global market leader within our industry. Their approach resulted in a program that our corporate team and executives embraced on both a professional and personal basis. Through VisionLink's guidance and execution, we were able to create both a motivational tool for current team members and a recruiting device to attract future executive level associates. Well done!"

Mark Rhoades
Fluidmaster, Inc.

"As a leading direct seller of scrapbook photo albums and supplies, Creative Memories has independent consultants across the country. And for over six years now, VisionLink has helped us to stay connected and administer a voluntary 409A non-qualified plan for them. VisionLink has provided support for all aspects of our plan from notification of eligibility through registration and distribution. The VisionLink support team has offered suggestions for improving processes and provided us with outstanding service year after year."

Guy Walker
Creative Memories North America